The blue jay scuffling in the bushes follows
Some hidden purpose, and the gush of birds
That spurts across the field, the wheeling swallows,
Have nested in the trees and undergrowth.
Seeking their instinct, or their pose, or both,
One moves with an uncertain violence
Under the dust thrown by a baffled sense
Or the dull thunder of approximate words.

On motorcycles, up the road, they come:
Small, black, as flies hanging in heat, the Boy,
Until the distance throws them forth, their hum
Bulges to thunder held by calf and thigh.
In goggles, donned impersonality,
In gleaming jackets trophied with the dust,
They strap in doubt--by hiding it, robust--
And almost hear a meaning in their noise.

Exact conclusion of their hardiness
Has no shape yet, but from known whereabouts
They ride, directions where the tires press.
They scare a flight of birds across the field:
Much that is natural, to the will must yield.
Men manufacture both machine and soul,
And use what they imperfectly control
To dare a future from the taken routes.

It is part solution, after all.
One is not necessarily discord
On Earth; or damned because, half animal,
One lacks direct instinct, because one wakes
Afloat on movement that divides and breaks.
One joins the movement in a valueless world,
Crossing it, till, both hurler and the hurled,
One moves as well, always toward, toward.

A minute holds them, who have come to go:
The self-denied, astride the created will.
They burst away; the towns they travel through
Are home for neither birds nor holiness,
For birds and saints complete their purposes.
At worse, one is in motion; and at best,
Reaching no absolute, in which to rest,
One is always nearer by not keeping still.

Submitted by Andrew Mayers


About Thom Gunn


an Anglo-American poet who was praised both for his early verses in England, where he was associated with The Movement and his later poetry in America, even after moving toward a looser, free-verse style. After relocating from England to San Francisco, Gunn, who became openly gay, wrote about gay-related topics — particularly in his most famous work, The Man With Night Sweats in 1992 — as well as drug use, sex, and topics related to his bohemian lifestyle. He won numerous major literary awards. Read more...

Poet of the day

Isaac Rosenberg was an English poet of the First World War who was considered to be one of the greatest of all English war poets. His "Poems from the Trenches" are recognised as some of the most outstanding written during the First World War.

Isaac Rosenberg was born to Barnet...
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Poem of the day


Who will away to Athens with me? Who
Loves choral songs and maidens crown'd with flowers,
Unenvious? mount the pinnace; hoist the sail.
I promise ye, as many as are here,
Ye shall not, while ye tarry with me, taste
From unrinsed barrel the diluted...
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